Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Underestimating the stride
As you are all getting tired of hearing, I'm training to run a 5K, using Robert Ullrey's wonderful podcasts. I'm now in week 9 and running for 30 minutes at a time. It feels good and really improves my confidence, as well as my health and appearance. There was just one problem - according to my pedometer, I was running nowhere near 5 kilometres. Seemed like I just couldn't run a 5K in 30 minutes, maybe it was going to take me 40 minutes.
I mentioned this problem to my husband, and also described the route I had taken (from our house up Scotia Street to the playground in Kildonan Park and back, for the locals). He frowned. We have walked that route many times, and it is at least five kilometres, probably more (the podcasts include 5 minutes of warmup and cooldown as well as the actual running). What was wrong with my lovely Omron pedometer? It was clearly shortchanging me in the length of my runs.
Nothing, as it turns out. The short circuit, as so often happens, was between my ears. The pedometer, of course, only counts steps. You have to tell it the length of your stride for it to know how far you've actually walked or run. Can you see where this is going?
I'm a short person. 152 cm tall, to be exact, or five foot nothing for you Imperialists. Good things come in small packages and all that, and I had estimated my stride at about 50 cm, or about 1'8" for my USAmerican pedometer. It was too much trouble to go out and actually measure it. But finally, the other day, my husband and I did exactly that. It is so much easier with two people.
Guess what? My running stride is more like 85 cm. That's nearly 3', or almost two-thirds of my height. I cover a lot more ground when I'm running than I think. I've easily been running 5K already, all the while worrying about whether I'd be able to do it on the day.
How often do we do this to ourselves? Especially women, although I know plenty of men who can tear themselves down like demolition experts. We can do so much more than we think. The realisation that I could run a 5K tomorrow is so liberating, I'm already starting to think about maybe moving on to a 10K when I'm done with this one ... anybody got some good podcasts for that?
How have you been shortchanging yourself?